Domiciliary – Seeing home-visits first hand totally changed my perspective

Tom McKnight went on the road with two home-visiting opticians last week. He reported back with very real insights into the difference the oft-hidden professionals are making to peoples lives and also some of the challenges that the domiciliary optometrists face.

“When people ask me what I do for a living, being able to say with pride that I play a small part in making a real difference to the lives of our customers is something that keeps me coming into work every day. However, having spent a day with two domiciliary business partners Deb and Vicki in North Wales, the true impact that they make on customers came to life for me like never before.

You will see optics professionals and our customers through a completely different lens

After 12 years in optics, having the opportunity to visit over 100 stores in that time, I didn’t think that there was much that I hadn’t had experience of. Boy was I wrong. Spending time with Deb and Vicki on domiciliary appointments was an emotional roller coaster. The heart warming stories of our customers, that simple desire just to read the paper and do the crossword again, and them having absolute belief and confidence that we were there and able to make a difference truly was a humbling experience.

During our day out, Deb and Vicki made sure that I experienced the diversity of the domiciliary business: care homes, dementia homes, and home visits. Through seven unique interactions over the course of the day, I had the privilege of seeing first-hand just how resourceful home-visit opticians have to be, adapting to their often unknown environment, before making that knock at the door. Dealing with a highly variable set of challenges as they arise. All the while, ring-fencing clinical quality and critically, above all else, a commitment to delivering the very best customer experience.

What I experienced challenged my misconceptions and truly enhanced the way I go about my role and articulate what we do.

There were so many learnings for me from the day: from realising just how critical diary planning is to ensure that not only were we on time, but able to spend quality time having great conversations with customers about their eye health as well as options for glasses… to how clinical and dispensing teams take customers through the journey. It is unbelievable just how different this is from being in a high street store.

However the biggest take out for me from the day was not to take a domiciliary service for granted. I had many misconceptions about how eyecare at home is delivered. I thought I could talk confidently to my customers (NHS, medical insurance companies and hospital and health care professional) about the value of a domiciliary business, but again I was wrong. What I experienced has not only challenged my misconceptions but truly enhanced the way I go about my role and articulate what we do.

Within five mins of finishing my day, I was on the phone to my colleagues (five of them had that pleasure before I got home that evening) urging them to get out and spend some time with domiciliary opticians. This was my message to them: You will see optics professionals and our customers through a completely different lens. By taking that day out and investing that time you will learn more about this part of the business and the day-to-day lives and motivations of domiciliary business owners and will come away challenging yourself on what you can do differently to support our customers, our partners and their teams to continue to deliver that lifestyle transformation that I witnessed.

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